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Acne Breakouts From The Covid Masks?


Face masks may be irritating your skin or worsening your skin issues. Here’s how you can take care of your skin while staying safe from the coronavirus.

A quick trip to the supermarket, or going back to work – wearing a face mask is the new normal now. And for good reason. COVID-19 is still a serious issue, and wearing protective face coverings substantially reduces the chances of spreading the infection.

But as skin specialists, we know that it comes with a downside, especially in this hot, humid weather we have now! We often get calls from patients who are suffering from skin irritation or sudden acne breakouts, ostensibly from having to wear masks frequently.

(Masks may not be the only reason for skin issues like acne breakouts. As your body adjusts to the extended lockdown period, understandably increased stress, anxiety, altered food habits – all play a role in increasing the production of cortisol, which in turn increases oil production and can cause acne. More on how to manage your mental and physical wellness during COVID in another blog!)

Skin issues while wearing a mask.

If you are a frontline worker, or someone who has to wear masks for extended periods of time, you may have experienced instances of rashes, chafing or skin redness. Regular mask wearers may also experience contact dermatitis, new or worsening acne, rosacea, seborrheic dermatitis, friction dermatitis, and new patterns of skin wrinkling. Why is this happening?

Our lead dermatologist, Dr. Sachin Dhawan explains: “For one thing, masks have a tendency to trap dirt, bacteria, and in hot/humid weather there is increased sweating and moisture too. None of this is good for the skin. In fact, with increased mask usage, I am seeing more patients complain about skin issues in their nose, mouth, jaw and chin area. There is also added friction, and constant rubbing of the skin from the mask. For those with oily or sensitive skin, this can particularly lead to acne breakouts”.

Dr. Sachin shares some skin care tips that can help you protect your skin while wearing a mask.

Be gentle with your skin.

Try to avoid using any harsh products on your skin. Clean your face and neck regularly (morning and night on typical days) with a gentle, soap-free cleanser. You may choose a specially formulated or medicated cleanser based on your skin type or doctor’s prescription.

Avoid heavy or rich products.

In humid weather, rich creams tend to not serve their purpose. Instead you can opt for lighter moisturizers, like water-based formulations. It is still important to properly moisturize your skin. But selecting products keeping in mind your skin type, and the external environment you are frequently in, can help you take the best care of your skin.

Prevent and treat inflammation.

Rashes or inflammation from a long day with a mask can be treated using soothing and cooling products. You can use aloe vera gels or other at home remedies (like cucumber slices) to gently calm the skin irritation. If the inflammation or rash persists for longer than a week, please consult with our doctors.

Masks for sensitive skin.

Those with sensitive skin should avoid masks made with synthetic fibers like polyester. Opt for masks made of soft, natural fabrics like cotton or bamboo. Make sure the masks still provide the barrier protection.

Practice good skin hygiene.

It is always the most important piece of advice we can share with our patients. It is particularly important now that you don’t touch your face without washing your hands. Wash your face with a gentle cleanser after you take off the mask, followed by a light moisturizer. When wiping off sweat or water, take care not to rub aggressively. Just gently pat your skin dry.

Consult with us if your skin issue persists.

For any skin issues that don’t get better within a week, or if it looks serious, painful, or if you are just unsure of how to take care of it – please feel free to contact our doctors. If not addressed properly, even simple skin issues can cause long-term skin damage.

Our doctors are available to consult online. The Skin ‘n Smiles clinic is also open for in-person consultations and treatments. You may contact us on +919650950048 or download the Skin ‘n Smiles app to book appointments or consult online.

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